As I read Cullen Herout’s essay, I immediately thought of a story I wrote about a woman then writing for Newsweek. Sarah Kliff had just complied a celebratory profile of LeRoy Carhart, who then as now unapologetically specializes in late, late abortions.
By way of gathering background for her gushy profile, Kliff actually watched an abortion being performed. The title is “Watching My First Abortion.”
Kliff convinced herself that she had threaded the needle. She was not being ‘judgmental’ yet still has “difficulty understanding my own reaction–both relieved to have watched a minimally invasive surgery and distressed by the emotionality of the process.” Of course, she had done nothing of the sort.
She saw “only” first trimester abortions through a window from another room. What she saw was a “suction machine [which] made a slight rumbling sound, a pinkish fluid flowed through the tube, and, faster than I’d expected, it was over.”Had she gotten close to these women–or watched Carhart abort a massive late second or third trimester baby–I’m guessing her nonchalant conclusion would have been a great deal less sanguine. Something about little arms and recognizable legs will do that to you.
Poof “it” (the baby) is gone.
Kliff then explained how:
When I returned from Omaha, friends and colleagues wanted to know if I had “done it.” When I said I had, their reactions surprised me. Friends who supported legal abortion bristled slightly when I told them where I’d been and what I’d watched. Acquaintances at a party looked a bit regretful to have asked about my most recent assignment.
Well, abortion is not “like other medical procedures,” no matter how loud or how often proponents insist it is. And as for the reaction of her “largely pro-choice sample set,” it’s not terrible surprising.